The Free, Independent, and Strictly Neutral City of Krakow was a state created out of the partition of Poland in 1815. The city itself was governed by its three big and powerful neighbors: Austria, Russia and Prussia. The city has some pretty big odds stacked against it. One, the country consists of a single coal producing province. Two, it has a merger population. And Three, it is surrounded by some of the most powerful countries in Europe. However, with a little planning and a little luck, Krakow is able to pull itself out and make a name for itself.
It's only province is a 2.5 coal RGO. High population of capitalists (78.000). Democracy Liberal party, eager to win next elections.
Only 1 core province. Surrounded by warmonger nations.
With Krakow it is easy to make a surplus, simply set poor taxes to 60% middle and rich to 50%, education 100%, defense down to zero and crime half-way. This should give you a budget of around 15.0+ a day. Don't forget to increase your mobilization pool, this will come in handy later on. When still pausing the game, start an election. The liberal party should come in power with over 40% of your population being liberal and voting rights set to wealth only. For research; I suggest to start with Practical Steam Engine followed by Machine Parts, to get your economy booming and to get those immigrants. Just before the election is held, start with your social reforms, else it will be harder to get immigrants.
By now you should have 5 machine parts from your research and you can begin transforming your coal nation in an industrial nation. I suggest building cheap factories such as: steel, cement, lumber and maybe a glass factory.
By 1844 your immigrants should be flocking in to their new factories and you should be a low major-power. You should now concentrate on increasing your mobilization pool and making some guard brigades.
To war or not to war
With the liberal revolution kicking in around 1848 you should make a decision about going to war or sticking to expanding your industry. Prussia is a good target for some expansion, though she must be in a war with either Denmark or Russia to be successful, better would be both. It is advisable to be allied with either of the 2, or a nation such as The Netherlands to be successful in your quest. You need at least a mobilization pool of 25, if you upgraded your every 6 months this should be no problem. You also need some guard brigades and some artillery/hussars. Fully mobilize your army and declare war on Prussia, or join an alliance with a nation who is already at war with them. Move your army to their southern provinces and hold out for a while, I suggest moving your fast hussars to take their capital and force them to hand over at least 3 provinces, preferable more.
Another tactic is to declare war on a nation that is free from the German alliances trough revolution. Good targets are: Saxony, Hanover, Frankfurt, Braunschweig.
At this point you have either successfully expanded your borders at the cost of either Prussia or Austria. Or, you are an industrial power with a population of over 10 million.
A top 8 rating is not unlikely for Krakow.
VIP: R 0.3
Krakow has ever larger odds against it now. There is now an event that forces you to either declare war on Austria or surrender to Austria in 1846. Krakow is forced to fight the clock in order to maintain its independence. Thankfully Krakow has a new advantage, they are able to become Poland if they own Warsaw. A nice little perk.
The Free, Independent, and Strictly Neutral City of Krakow (1836-1848)
Krakow only has ten years before you are forced to declare war on Austria. Some quick planning is needed in order to survive. We are going to need to find a friend who is able to protect us. Since we need to recapture Warsaw anyways. Russia is as good a friend as any. Start by selling off all of your Canned Food, Small Arms and Steel in order to make some quick cash.
Your mission should be to become friends with Russia. In order to do this, you should tribute Russia 100 pounds (via Open Negotiations) every time you get a Diplo Point. You should focus on trying to research techs such as Mechanical Production, Muzzle Loaded Rifles, Practical Steam Engine and Strategic Mobility. When you get your relations to about 100 (or its about 1844), trade whatever techs and money you can for Seidlice.
When 1846 rolls around, you will be forced to declare war on Austria. Austria will be able to attack and occupy Krakow proper, but it will not be able to get to Seidlice.
Since Austria is sitting on top of Krakow, your going to need to get it back. However, since you traded technology to Russia, you are probably sitting with Negative Prestige. You'll need to get your prestige back into the positive range and you'll need to focus on building your relations with Russia.
You should focus on Cultural techs such as Realism or Idealism that give you extra prestige for free. You'll need these techs to get back into positive prestige. Once you have positive prestige, you are free to trade anything and everything for Warsaw.
While you are researching Cultural Techs, you should be focusing on building relations with Russia. Russia is likely to enter an alliance with you when relations are above 170. Once you are successfully able to form an alliance with Russia, a quick war (a couple days or so) should begin and end in a Status Quo.
Once you have freed Krakow from the Austrians and captured Warsaw. You will get an event which allows you to form Poland.
The Kingdom of Poland (1850s-1870s)
Now that you have become Poland, you are going to want to quickly get your economy in order and begin to purchase Polish lands from Russia (starting with the provinces bordering Prussia (they seem to be less likely to declare war, compared to Austria). Make sure you maintain positive relations with Russia, as the alliance will help you to deter potential invaders.
Since your in an alliance with Russia, if either country did decide to attack you, you would be virtually defenseless. In order to protect yourself from being hopelessly slaughtered it might be use to purchase a territory deep inside Russia (but still in Europe). If the invading army cannot reach this province, they cannot force you into a peace.
One good choice might also to purchase Helsinki as quickly as possible. It prevents the Russians from releasing Finland as a satellite and it is a nice beginning of an Empire.
The Empire of Poland (1870s-1936)
Thanks to your nice relationship with Russia, you are able to begin buying little pieces it no longer wants, such as the Baltic States or Finland. Russia would be happy to turn over any provinces for some tech and some cash.
Make sure you maintain positive relations with Russia as it is the key to your survival.
By the end of the game, it is possible to have all of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland under your control.
Not bad for a single province, coal producing city-state, now is it?